Ten women and children held prisoner in Syrian mosque

Ten women and children held prisoner in Syrian mosque
After their arrest on Wednesday night by regime forces, a group of women and children are still being held hostage at a Damascus mosque as locals protest for their release.
2 min read
18 March, 2016
Protests continued this week in Damascus [AFP]

Around ten women and children are being held prisoner by the Syrian regime at a Damascus mosque.

The families were said to have taken part in a demonstration commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Syrian revolution on Wednesday evening when they were picked up by regime security, activists said.

They have been held in the al-Khansa mosque in Damascus for the past two days, the opposition-leaning Enab al-Baladi newspaper reported.

The families are said to be from the Barza district of the capital, which is jointly run by the Free Syrian Army and regime following a truce in the area two years ago.

However, this local ceasefire seems to be at risk after regime troops sealed off the neighbourhood, blocking off all access points to the residents.

"All we know [so far ] is that women and children are being detained in the mosque and a siege is now imposed on the city for the second day. Activists on the ground believe it's because they held a demo to mark the fifth anniversary in the Barza," said Abdulaziz al-Mashi, co-founder of the Syria Solidarity Campaign.

Demonstrations in the neighbourhood have demanded the release of the hostages, and on Friday a larger protest took place after midday prayers.

"The mosque is located on the outskirts of Barza and that is an area controlled by the regime," Mashi said.

The Damascus Now Facebook page reported that the main road was closed by the regime after local fighters kidnapped a soldier.

Another report in Orient, a pro-opposition newspaper, said that "six officers and 17 militants" from the regime military were being held by opposition fighters.

This has led opposition activists to accuse the regime of holding the women and children ransom.

Large protests were held across Syria on Friday, following a ceasefire agreement two weeks ago, which has allowed demonstrations to take place in rebel towns and cities with a lower risk of attack from regime warplanes.